Leave It To Claire – by Tracey Bateman (2006)

Leave It To Claire

As I’ve been heavily into non-fiction books and podcasts lately, it seemed that it was time to jump into fiction again. This book is what I would call a reality novel. Claire is a forty-something divorced mother of four kids, who makes a living by writing from home. Despite being home most of the time, she is so busy writing that she doesn’t spend much time with her kids, and she is far too busy for friendships or God time.

Claire’s relationship with her ex-husband Rick is strained, especially since he remarried. His new wife tries to be friendly and kind to Claire, but finds her bitter and unreachable. As in real life, the four kids are stuck between their father and their mother. One of the kids really starts acting out and getting in trouble at school.

When Claire has to stop working for several months due to carpal tunnel requiring surgery for both hands, she begins to evaluate her life. What she sees is not good, and she makes a list of things she wants to change.

The book had a nitty-gritty feel about it. Anyone who has gone through a divorce, especially with children, will be able to relate to Claire. And those who haven’t been through the experience of divorce will get an idea of how difficult it is. There is no quick fix to heal a family that has been ripped apart, but with the help of God, friends and hard work, healing can happen.


The Good, The Bad, And The Grace Of God – by Jep and Jessica Robertson (2015)

The Good The Bad The Grace Of God

If you’ve ever watched “Duck Dynasty” on tv, you probably remember Jep Robertson as the baby brother of the family. While the older brothers Willie and Jase are outspoken and constantly interacting with each other, Jep is often absent or quietly sitting on the sidelines.

This book is the story of Jep and his wife Jessica. The two had a lot in common. Both were very close to their families, both loved hunting and the outdoors, but both had impulsive tendencies that got them into trouble as young adults. Thanks to their families and the grace of God, they chose to turn their lives around. Both Jep and Jessica became followers of Jesus – Christians. But this new commitment to live for Jesus didn’t automatically make their lives trouble-free. They rushed into marriage at a too-young age, and soon started having children. By the time they were married for eight years, they had four children. Things were great and disastrous by turns.

What I loved about this book was the way their family loved them, surrounded them, and never gave up on them. The love of Jesus showed in the way they worked with the young couple. Toward the end of the story, things started going better financially as the family was given the “Duck Dynasty” television show. But I love what Jessica said in conclusion: “Fame is fleeting, but family is forever.” (pg. 200) Well spoken!

Jordan’s Crossing – by Randall Arthur (1993, 2003)

Jordan's Crossing

I read this book because it was highly recommended by someone I am close to. The story-line is about a man named Jordan who takes a position at a university in Germany that pays extremely well, which will enable him to pay off a rather large debt. His wife Susan, son, and daughter are all dead set against moving to a foreign country, but Jordan drags them there anyway. Nothing goes right. They have a terrible time finding housing, their plans to home-school their daughter are cancelled because it turns out to be illegal there, they have a hard time finding a church that they feel at home in, and Susan is lonely and depressed. Their son finds a nice girlfriend, but even that turns out badly when a gang of Jamaican drug dealers slits their son’s throat and gang-rapes the girlfriend. The rest of the book is mostly Jordan in a rage, vowing vengeance and trying to find the gang so that he can kill them.

What I liked about the book was the theme that God is with us, no matter how terrible the situation we may find ourselves in. The older man who had also lost members of his family kept trying to point them to God for strength, and for the ability to forgive and re-build their lives.

What I disliked about the book was the total grimness of the story-line from beginning to end. I’ve read plenty of books with sadness and depressing themes, but those books usually mixed in some happiness and lighter portions to balance it out. It’s called “comic relief”, and theatrical performances as well as movies and books use it to give the audience a break from the constant negativity. “Jordan’s Crossing” was just depressing from beginning to end. Although I finished the book, it would probably not be one I would recommend.

The Devil In Pew Number Seven – by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo (2010)

The Devil In Pew Number Seven


Rebecca Nichols grew up in a town in Alabama that was so small it wasn’t even on the map. Her father was the pastor of the local church, her loving mother supported him in the ministry, their congregation was growing in number, a baby brother was added, and Rebecca had good friends. It should have been a wonderful childhood, but was instead a nightmare, thanks to a bitter old man who always sat in pew number seven in church.

The terror that one man was able to cast on the Nichols family is almost unbelievable. You will find yourself asking over and over how no one could stop him. But even more unbelievable is the way in which the Nichols treated their tormenter. Regardless of how you feel by the end of the book, you will have to admit that Rebecca’s parents truly lived what they believed.


“I think Jesus was saying that you and I should forgive so many times that it becomes second nature to us. If forgiveness is the language of heaven, then forgiveness should be a way of life for me. Notice, I didn’t say it should be easy. It’s not.”